The Irish surname Friel. Found mainly in counties Donegal and Derry in the northwest of Ireland, is an anglicized spelling of the Gaelic name O’Firghil, meaning “ a man of valor or the gallant man.” The family is said to descend from Eoghan the brother of St. Columcille the 6th Century Irish Saint who founded a monastery on the desolate Isle of Iona of the coast of Donegal where the family is still centered today. The earliest modern reference to the name is Bishop Feargal O’Friel who died in 1299. The earliest record of the name in the New World is in 1709 when William Friel arrived in America from Ireland. Today there are approximately 4.500 bearers of the name Friel living in the United States.
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